Unite says dispute rooted in ‘catastrophic’ public policy choices
February 28th: Unite, which represents craft workers at Bus Éireann, today criticised the ‘back seat’ approach to the Bus Éireann crisis adopted by Transport Minister Shane Ross and called on him to intervene to avert the strike action now scheduled for Monday March 6th following the company’s unilateral imposition of a cuts package. Unite members voted unanimously for strike action.
Commenting, Unite Regional Officer Willie Quigley said:
“The strike set to start on Monday has its roots in a series of catastrophic public policy choices which have brought the company to the brink of disaster and threaten to leave large swathes of rural Ireland with proper public transport provision.
“The travelling public and Bus Éireann workers are picking up the tab for inadequate subventions coupled with a significant shortfall in the Free Travel scheme payments received by the company. At the same time, there is no regulatory mechanism to compensate Expressway – a commercial operation – for serving communities on loss-making routes which should be subject to a Public Service Obligation.
“Bus Éireann has been used by successive governments as a cash cow with which to plug holes in public provision – from free travel to rural transport.
“The crisis facing Bus Éireann is a policy and a political crisis. Instead of taking a back seat and watching events unfold, Minister Ross still has an opportunity to avert the strike action set to start on Monday. To do so, he needs to get in the driving seat, convene talks between all stakeholders, and advocate for Bus Éireann and public transport at the Cabinet table. Otherwise, he will be remembered as the Minister who abandoned public transport and the rural communities which rely on it”, Mr Quigley said.